A Review of the Operational Use of UAS in Public Safety Emergency Incidents

by   Hunter Ray, et al.

The domain of public safety in the form of search & rescue, wildland firefighting, structure firefighting, and law enforcement operations have drawn great interest in the field of aerospace engineering, human-robot teaming, autonomous systems, and robotics. However, a divergence exists in the assumptions made in research and how state-of-the-art technologies may realistically transition into an operational capacity. To aid in the alignment between researchers, technologists, and end users, we aim to provide perspective on how small Uncrewed Aerial Systems (sUAS) have been applied in 114 real world incidents as part of a technical rescue team from 2016 to 2021. We highlight the main applications, integration, tasks, and challenges of employing UAS within five primary use cases including searches, evidence collection, SWAT, wildland firefighting, and structure firefighting. Within these use cases, key incidents are featured that provide perspective on the evolving and dynamic nature of UAS tasking during an operation. Finally, we highlight key technical directions for improving the utilization and efficiency of employing aerial technology in all emergency types.


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